Wednesday April 17th, 2024 9:22AM

Lumpkin Co. sheriff issues statement on immigration amid Athens controversy

By Caleb Hutchins Assistant News Director

As controversy continues to build following the murder of a student on the University of Georgia's campus last week, one Northeast Georgia sheriff is speaking out about issues involving illegal immigrants.

Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard posted a video to social media Wednesday night, saying his office contacts U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement any time an illegal immigrant is arrested in its jurisdiction.

"We do contact ICE to see if they want to detain them," Jarrard said. "It's unfortunate that people have lost their lives by someone that has been here illegally. I just want to make sure that we always do what we need to do to keep this community safe."

Augusta University nursing student and Woodstock native Laken Riley, age 22, was found dead on the UGA campus last Thursday, February 22. Jose Antonio Ibarra, age 26, was later arrested and charged in her death. Ibarra was determined by UGA police to be a Venezuelan citizen who had illegally entered the United States.

Jarrard's comments came just hours after Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz held a press conference in response to Riley's death. Girtz was asked about his government's policies towards illegal immigrants.

"One protocol that sometimes arises is the approach that sheriff's offices and jails take to what are termed detainers. The (Athens-Clarke County) Sheriff's Office's approach has varied over the years," Girtz said. "I caution against conflating immigration and crime."

Jarrard, meanwhile, said the decisions on whether ICE places a detainer on a suspect who is in the U.S. illegally is often made at the federal, not local, level.

"Unfortunately, sometimes that goes to the decisions of whoever is the president at that time," Jarrard said. "I can tell you, at this time, as we do these calls to see if they want to place detainers, they're not being detained at this time, on most incidents."

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has been openly critical of U.S. President Joe Biden's immigration policies in recent weeks. Jarrard said he commended Kemp's efforts on immigration issues.

"I want to thank our great Governor Brian Kemp for all he's doing with it," Jarrard said. "We just want to keep this community as safe as possible. We will continue to contact ICE to try to get detainers on (illegal immigrants) when someone is arrested here."

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Lumpkin County, Athens-Clarke County, Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office, immigration, Stacy Jarrard, Laken Riley
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